Diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Ireland were shattered following the sexual abuse scandal. At the World Eucharistic Congress, Rome relies on conciliatory tones. Papal envoy met victims and expressed "shame and remorse" for offenses.
The pope's personal representative to the World Eucharistic Congress in Dublin has met with victims of sexual abuse. On behalf of Benedict XVI. he asked for "forgiveness from God and the victims for the grave sin of sexual abuse of children by clergy," Cardinal Marc Ouellet said, according to a Wednesday statement from the Irish Bishops' Conference.
Grave sin of sexual abuse of children by clergy
Ouellet made what was described as a pilgrimage visit Tuesday and Wednesday to Saint Patrick's Monastery on "Holy Island" in Lake Lough Derg, one of Ireland's most important pilgrimage sites. In this context, he reportedly held two hours of face-to-face meetings with victims of abuse.
In recent decades, the Church has learned "how much suffering and despair this abuse has caused thousands of victims," said the cardinal, who is also head of the Roman Congregation for Bishops. "We have also learned that the response of some church authorities to these crimes has often been inadequate and inefficient, despite clear instructions in church law."
Using earlier words from the pope, Ouellet expressed "shame and remorse" for the offenses. It is understandable if the victims find it difficult to forgive and reconcile with the church. At the same time, he reiterated the Catholic Church's "commitment to creating a safe environment for children".
Monument to abuse victims of Catholic Church
A "stone of healing" had been unveiled during the opening ceremony of the congress. The monument is dedicated to victims of abuse in the Catholic Church and is to be permanently erected in Dublin after the congress. During the opening event, around 50 victims of abuse demonstrated in front of the congress building. They demanded the resignation of the Irish Primate Cardinal Sean Brady.
The one-week 50. Eucharistic World Congress of the Catholic Church began in Dublin on Sunday and will continue through the weekend. The aim of the event is to promote devotion to the Eucharist worldwide. For the closing service at Croke Park Stadium, along with some 80.000 Catholics also Ireland's President Michael Higgins expected.